NYPD to test AI-powered gun-detection scanners in subway system

The NYPD will deploy gun-detection systems in subway stations as part of a pilot project after a 90-day waiting period.
Eric Adams
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks at the Fulton Street Subway Station on March 28, 2024. (New York City Mayor's Office)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday announced plans for a pilot project in which the city’s police department will test AI-equipped gun-detection scanners in the city’s subway system.

The scanners, which the city claims use advanced sensors and artificial intelligence to detect weapons carried by travelers into the transit system, will soon be deployed in an unspecified number of subway stations.

During a press conference at the Fulton Street Subway Station on Thursday, Adams said the NYPD will deploy the portable Evolv gun detection systems, which he noted were already used at other highly visited locations across the city, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Citi Field.

To remain in compliance with the city’s Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology, or POST, Act NYC police must wait at least 90 days before deploying technology, such as gun-detection scanners, while the public is given a chance to comment on a draft impact and use policy. Adams said the scanners don’t use facial recognition technology.


Evolv, however, is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission for potentially overstating its technology’s capabilities. A city news release said that during the 90-day waiting and comment period, the NYPD will identify companies with proven expertise in weapons-detection technology.

Announcement of the tech pilot follows several high-profile shootings and attacks in the subway system this year, including an incident this month when a 36-year-old man was shot four times with his own gun on a subway train after instigating a fight with another man in Brooklyn, according to police reports.

The gun-detection tech project also arrives amid the state’s response to the uptick in violent crime on the trains. Earlier this month, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed 750 National Guard soldiers into the subway system to do bag checks alongside the state police.

So far this year, the NYPD said it has seized 450 weapons – including 19 illegal guns – in the New York City transit system, compared to 261 weapons during the same period last year.

Adams said the gun detection technology will be paired with efforts to hire additional mental health clinicians to support the expansion of the Subway Co-Response Outreach Teams — or SCOUT — a pilot program that was launched in October 2023. The program, which is a partnership with between the state and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, aims to connect people with untreated severe mental illness in the subways to mental health treatment.


“Keeping New Yorkers safe on the subway and maintaining confidence in the system is key to ensuring that New York remains the safest big city in America,” Adams said in the news release. “Today’s announcement is the next step in our ongoing efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of our transit system and to provide greater mental health services for New Yorkers in crisis. By kicking off a 90-day waiting period to test electromagnetic weapons detection systems here in New York City and hiring more clinicians for SCOUT, we are showing our administration’s dedication to keeping all New Yorkers safe.”

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